WHETHER it’s against defending champion Purefoods or Talk ‘N Text, Rain or Shine for sure will be back to its old tag as underdog when the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals kicks off next week.
And for coach Yeng Guiao, it surely is a welcome development after the Elasto Painters found themselves the prohibitive favorites in their best-of-five semifinals series against Meralco Bolts.
“I don’t have a personal preference (on which team to face in the Finals). Kahit sino naman ang makalaban namin diyan, underdog kami eh,” Guiao said candidly.
The outspoken mentor admitted being uncomfortable playing as favorites in the team’s best-of-five semis showdown against the Bolts, who the Elasto Painters nonetheless swept, 3-0.
“In this (semifinal) series, we’re not comfortable dahil favorites kami, hindi naman kami sanay sa label na ‘favorites,'” said Guiao after leading the franchise to its third Finals appearance in the last five conferences.
“Since it’s over (semis), we’ll be get back to the ‘underdog’ label pagdating sa Finals, whether it’s Purefoods or Talk ’N Text.”
Purefoods and Talk ‘N Text definitely has the edge talent-wise against Rain or Shine, although Guiao’s credits his team’s health as the main reason why it became the first team to reach the finals of the mid-season tournament.
“Kung isa lang ang injury mo going to the Finals, ma-suwerte ka na. So sa amin, si Jeff (Chan) lang, and we can still bring him back in the Finals kaya maganda na ang lagay namin kung ganun, and then we have a few days rest,” noted the former national team coach.
One of the team’s resident gunners, Chan missed Games Two and Three of the semis due to a nagging leg pain.
The left-handed Gilas Pilipinas mainstay only played a total of five minutes (Game One) the entire semis series.
“It’s easier to plan out our strategy. Hindi mo na iisipin ngayon 'yung kung anong remedy ang gagawin mo sa rotation kasi puro injury. Being healthy now is a relief for us,” added the 56-year-old Guiao.
Likewise, Guiao credits Wayne Chism for bringing the team this far as Rain or Shine had gone 10-1 since its original import choice took over and replaced Rick Jackson.
The Rain or Shine mentor said the team has nothing against Jackson, who towed the team to a 3-2 record in its first five games this conference before being given the pink slip.
“We brought in Rick Jackson, but we knew we want Wayne and we’re just buying time to get him back,” explained Guiao, who is gunning for his sixth league championship as coach.
“Wayne responds to coaching and the players like him because he’ll let the locals get their rhythm.”